Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

George Zimmerman, Carpenter – 50th Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on May 25, 2012

The post today is a continuation of a study of the men who served in the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry.

George Zimmerman, a carpenter from Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, joined the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, as a Private on 27 February, 1864, according to some military records.  Some military records also indicate that George Zimmerman died at Davis Isle, New York, on 22 September 1864 of wounds received and is buried in the Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn.  Other military database records indicate that he enlisted on that date, 22 September 1864, and was mustered out with his company in 1865.  There was only one George Zimmerman who served in Company A of the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, so obviously, there is a conflict in the records which needs to be resolved.

In the 1860 Census for Upper Mahantongo Township, Schuylkill County, George appears with wife Elizabeth and two young sons, Siegfried, age 4, and Joel, age 1.  That census record, which appeared on two enumeration sheets, is shown below:

George Zimmerman, age 26, is recorded as a carpenter and living in Schuylkill County.  No other persons named George Zimmerman were found in the 1860 census for the general geographic area who also were about the same age and had the occupation of carpenter. This is essentially the same information – age, residence and occupation – as is found on the Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card at the Pennsylvania Archives, pictured below:

The Index Card in a compilation of Pennsylvania Archives records including the Registers of Pennsylvania Volunteers and the muster rolls.  The information on the register for the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, is shown below:

The “Z” names of privates from the Register are shown above.  The notation that George Zimmerman “died of wounds, 22 September 1864, at Davis Island, New York Harbor,” is consistent with the information that is found on the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Index Card.

Turning to the information available in three database records available through Ancestry.com, the records as produced are as follows:

The above record from the database entitled, “United States Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865,” gives the National Archives Record Series and Roll Number for Pennsylvania Civil War Military Records.  Only one record was found for a George Zimmerman for this regiment and company.

The next database consulted was “American Civil War Soldiers” (above) and the conflict is revealed.  This database notes that George Zimmerman enlisted as a Private on 22 September 1864 and was mustered out at Georgetown, Washington, D.C., on 30 July 1865.  The date given for his enlistment is the date of his death as reported on the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Index Card.

The database “United States Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles” gives similar results as “American Civil War Soldiers” with the added comment that George Zimmerman survived the war.

Steve Maczuga‘s database, Pennsylvanians in the Civil War gives the names of the four men named Zimmerman who served in the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, with the two men who served as “Private” being George Zimmerman and “L. Zimmerman.”  The “L. Zimmerman” is the same person who is listed as “Lewis Zimmerman” on the Register of Pennsylvania Volunteers (above).  Maczuga also notes that George Zimmerman “died on 22 September 1864 and is “buried in Cypress Hill Cemetery.”  Maczuga gives the cemetery location as “Long Island.”

A check of the Findagrave site’s cemetery list for New York State reveals that there are two cemeteries in New York that have the name “Cypress Hills.”  Cypress Hills Cemetery is located at 833 Jamaica Avenue, Brooklyn, and Cypress Hills National Cemetery, 625 Jamaica Avenue, Brooklyn.  Neither of these cemeteries had a listing for George Zimmerman.  Searching for a “George Zimmerman” on the Department of Veterans Affairs Gravesite Locator, of 61 results, none were a match for a George Zimmerman who died in 1864 or who could have served in the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry.

Did the George Zimmerman who served in the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, survive the war?

The next records possibility for examination would be the Pension Index Cards, which are an index to the pension application files at the National Archives.  These Pension Index Cards are available through Ancestry.com.  If George’s widow applied for a pension, did she receive one?  The search of the Pension Index Cards produced the following result:

The date Elizabeth Zimmerman applied for a pension is difficult to read, but appears to be 1865.  A “Certificate Number” is an indication that she was awarded a widow’s pension.  The low certificate number is a sure bet that it did not take long for the Pension Bureau to honor her application.  It would seem very likely that George Zimmerman did not survive the war and that the two databases which note his discharge as 30 July 1865 are in error.

What happened to Elizabeth and the two sons who are found in the 1860 census?  The son named “Siegfried” should be easy to check as there most likely aren’t many with that name who were born about 1856.  A search of the census returns was quite revealing.  For 1900, Little Mahanoy Township, Northumberland County, the return names a “Siegfried Zimmerman” who is married with two sons and working as a carpenter (see below).  The name is the same, the location is close to the 1860 location, the age is about the same – and the occupation, that of carpenter, is the same as the father’s occupation.

Click on document to enlarge.

Searching backwards to see if Siegfried or any other family members appear in the 1890, 1880 or 1870 censuses, a result for 1890 appears to confirm that Elizabeth was alive in 1890 and “registered” as a widow.  Although she did not name the regiment in which her deceased husband served, she had the year of “1864” correct, but was incorrect as to the length of service as over one year.  The census sheet was for Little Mahanoy Township, Northumberland County (the same location where son Siegfried was living in 1900 – see above).   The post office address was Dornsife, Northumberland County.  The 1890 census sheet with Elizabeth as the widow of George Zimmerman is shown below:

Searching the 1880 census, a strange result appeared.  No census result for the general geographic area was specific for a “Siegfried Zimmerman,” but a “Sterling S. Zimmerman” was found of about the same age as Siegfried should have been in 1880, with occupation as carpenter – and with living parents, George Zimmerman and Elizabeth Zimmerman, with that George about the same age as the George Zimmerman who supposedly died in the war.  The George Zimmerman of 1880 was also a carpenter!

Click on document to enlarge.

Seemingly, George Zimmerman, who died in the war, was alive!  He’s living in West Perry Township, Snyder County (across the Susquehanna River from Northumberland County) – with wife Elizabeth and still working as a carpenter!  And, there’s a son named “Sterling S. Zimmerman” of about the same age as Siegfried (possibly Siegfried?) who is also working as a carpenter!  There are three additional children in the household (all born after the 1860 census), one of whom was born during the Civil War and one seemingly born between the 1870 and 1880 census!

Is this the same family?  While there appear to be many coincidental matches, there is still not certainty that this is the same George Zimmerman who supposedly died in the war.

A search of the 1870 Census gave no good matches for Siegfried, but a good one for Elizabeth and George:

The “G. W. Zimmerman” on Line #26 could be George Zimmerman.  He is a carpenter and he is about the right age.  Elizabeth Zimmerman is there as well (Line #25) –  and her age roughly matches the age of the Elizabeth in the 1860 census.  However, the children that appear in the 1880 census do not appear in the 1870 census with the “family”- so the possibility still exists that this is a different person than the one who served in the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry.  The census return shown above is from Shamokin Dam, which is in Snyder County, just across the Susquehanna River from Sunbury, Northumberland County.

If there was no records conflict between the databases, a conclusion might be more simply arrived at.  Here is a case where the pension file must be consulted.  Did Elizabeth have to provide proof of the death of her husband in order to receive a pension?  What records did the Pension Bureau consult?  Or, this a case of deception?

Where is George Zimmerman buried?  Surely a burial record exists somewhere which will give an exact or more exact date of death.  If he lived beyond the Civil War and the George Zimmerman in the 1880 Census is the veteran of the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, then he had to die at some point in the late 19th or early twentieth century.  If so, where and when?

If there is more than one George Zimmerman, of the same age, and the “other” George Zimmerman was married to a woman named Elizabeth and was also a carpenter, are there any records which show both in the same record set?  Thus far, none have been located.

Can anyone explain all this?  Anyone with access to the pension records, military records or other information that can unravel this mystery is urged to come forward.

This is one of the many stories of the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry.  There are more to follow.  Additional stories on the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry and the men who served in it can be found by clicking here.


One Response to “George Zimmerman, Carpenter – 50th Pennsylvania Infantry”

  1. Michqel says:

    I was helping my wife with her Zimmerman line and ran across a George that is related but we were having trouble with a documented family link. This one is buried in the Tremont Old Fellows Cemetery in a large and we’ll mark family plot. You may want to take a trip to Tremont to check it out. I think his father’s name was Solomon buried right next to him and fought in the war of 1812. They originated in the exact same area you are looking settling a William Penn land grant on Zimmerman Lane.

Leave a Reply

Please note: Comment moderation is currently enabled so there will be a delay between when you post your comment and when it shows up. Patience is a virtue; there is no need to re-submit your comment.